Top LDS leaders urge members to vote against legalizing marijuana

LDS leaders urge members to vote against legalizing marijuana (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) The top leaders of the LDS church have sent a letter to congregations in Arizona, California and Nevada asking members to vote against measures to legalize recreational marijuana.

Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed the authenticity of the letter that is signed by the organization's three top leaders, collectively known as the First Presidency to its members.

It says in part:

We urge Church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

The letter is addressed to "leaders and members" in Arizona, California and Nevada with a date of Wednesday, Oct. 12. It states that drug abuse in the U.S. is at "epidemic proportions, and the dangers of marijuana to public health and safety are well documented."

It cites recent students that it says has shed light on the risks marijuana use poses to brain development in youth and the dangers of accessibility of recreational marijuana in the home.

The letter is signed by Thomas S. Monson, revered as the church's top leader with the title of prophet. Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf as the other two members of the church's trio that traditionally makes up the First Presidency.

It is expected that congregation leaders will read the letter in weekly church meetings. It is not clear when the letter will be read.

(Story continues after letter)

The LDS church opposed a medical marijuana bill in February. Sen. Mark Madsen, who is LDS, did not back off passing the bill in the Utah Legislature. A policy poll showed that 61 percent of Utahns said they support moving toward legalizing the drug. The poll was taken after the LDS church released a statement opposing Sen. Mark Madsen's bill to legalize. In a statement on its webpage, the church urged a "cautious approach" due to its worries of unintended consequences.

Four states currently have marijuana legal for recreation use. They are Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. A number of other states have legal medicinal marijuana including Utah's neighbors New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada as well as California with its significant Mormon population.

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